By NBA.com staff reports
Posted Nov 12 2009 9:06PM
New Orleans Hornets general manager Jeff Bower will assume the team's head coaching duties after the Hornets fired coach Byron Scott early Thursday morning.
Former Hornets coach Tim Floyd has been named as Bower's top assistant.
Scott was fired when the team arrived in New Orleans at 5 a.m. Thursday local time from Phoenix, where the Hornets were beaten by the Suns to fall to 3-6 in what has been a disappointing start to the season. According to TNT analyst David Aldridge, Bower informed the coaches and the team of his decision later Thursday morning.
"Accountability was our theme this past summer," Hornets vice president Chad Shinn said in a statement released by the team. "We talked about the fact that everyone on our staff is held to a certain standard of performance and we didn't feel this was happening at the head coach level.
"We feel like we still have an opportunity with our nucleus to get to where we want and Jeff is the right guy, right now to move us in that direction from the bench."
Bower said it was more than simply the poor start to this season that prompted the quick trigger on Scott's job.
"Nine games into the season is one thing," Bower said. "Numerous practices that we watched and the effectiveness of our team growing from them are all areas of the team that we feel need to be different.
"Given that plus our preseason play, we're looking to something to point to to say that it's changing. The only thing you can do is look at the tapes of the games and search to see what progress is being made. We weren't comfortable with the amount of progress we were seeing."
Bower was on the Hornets' bench in recent years as an assistant to both Paul Silas and Floyd, but has been the general manager of the team since 2005. He has been involved in the front office during most of his 14 years with the organization, as a scout and director of player personnel. Bower was an assistant coach at college at Penn State and Marist.
Floyd's last job was as coach of USC from 2005-09, where he went 85-49 and led the Trojans to the Sweet 16 in 2007. He coached the Hornets in the 2003-04 season, guiding a team led by Baron Davis and Jamaal Magloire to a 41-41 record and first-round loss to the Miami Heat in the playoffs. The rest of the assistant coaches will remain in tact with the addition of Floyd.
Scott had coached the Hornets for the last five years, including a two-year ordeal (2005-06 and 2006-07) when they split time between New Orleans and Oklahoma City in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He compiled a 203-216 record with the Hornets, who are coming off of a 124-104 pounding in Phoenix on Wednesday night.
Scott, who had a 14-year career as a player in the NBA, came to the Hornets after three-and-a-half seasons in New Jersey, during which time he compiled a 149-139 (.517) record and took the Nets from the bottom of the Eastern Conference (only three teams were worse the season before he arrived) to a spot as one of the NBA's elite teams. They made back-to-back NBA Finals appearances during his tenure.
When Scott took over the Hornets following the 2003-04 season, he was the team's third coach in three seasons. He was the NBA coach of the year in 2008, when star guard Chris Paul led the Hornets to a 56-26 record. That season, the Hornets beat Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs before losing to San Antonio in the seventh game of their Western Conference semifinal series.
This season, the Hornets looked lethargic at both ends of the court; on offense, there was very little movement in the team's halfcourt sets when Paul didn't have the ball, and a significant fall off at the defensive end.
"That's the thing that's killing us right now," Paul said last week. "We can't stop teams. That's one thing coach always says: offense, that'll come night in and night out, 'cause we play 82 games. But if we defend every night, we have a chance to win every night..it's communication. I think our biggest issue is trust. Trust. 'Cause when you're defending a guy, you have to trust that your teammate has your back. And we can learn. We can learn from teams like the Spurs, like the Celtics."
But Paul said the team was not playing badly because it missed Chandler, who brought blocked shots and energy at the defensive end and was Paul's frequent target for crowd-pleasing alley-oops. The Hornets traded Chandler to Charlotte last summer for forward Emeka Okafor.
"I can't put my finger on it, but we've got to find a way," Paul said. "We've got guys that have been in this league a long time. We've got a nice little nucleus that's been here for a while. These are issues that we probably shouldn't be having."
Bower said he is going to look at all facets of the team and make adjustments immediately as necessary.
"This isn't about me stepping into this role," Bower said. "This is about a situation that a group of players that I believe in deeply, a group of players that I feel has the talents and abilities to work together and grow together to do some important things."
The Hornets dropped to seventh in the Western Conference last season and are off to their worst start this year since the 2005-2006 season when the team was relocated to Oklahoma City because of Hurricane Katrina. It's the last time the Hornets missed the playoffs.
"Accountability is key," team president Hugh Weber said. "I told Jeff 'the genie is out the bottle.' Nobody can say we didn't have the right players. Jeff has handpicked this team. We like the idea that Jeff will be held accountable for this team."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report
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